The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.
Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.
Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.
Russia’s support of Syria has put it at odds with the Oil producing nations; Saudi Arabia in particular.
A meeting between Saudi Arabia and Russia was held in July, in which Saudi's influential intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan met with Putin and regaled him with gifts, including a multi-billion arms deal and a promise that Saudi is "ready to help Moscow play a bigger role in the Middle East at a time when the United States is disengaging from the region", if only Putin would agree to give up his alliance with Syria's al-Assad and let the Free-Syria rebels take over, ostensibly including control of the country's all important natgas transit infrastructure.
Putin didn’t simply say, “Nyet’, he was infuriated at the suggestion.
Regarding the Syrian issue, the Russian president responded to Bandar, saying, “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters. During the Geneva I Conference, we agreed with the Americans on a package of understandings, and they agreed that the Syrian regime will be part of any settlement. Later on, they decided to renege on Geneva I. In all meetings of Russian and American experts, we reiterated our position. In his upcoming meeting with his American counterpart John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will stress the importance of making every possible effort to rapidly reach a political settlement to the Syrian crisis so as to prevent further bloodshed.”
Prince Bandar’s attempt to persuade Putin with gifts and multi-billion dollars deals were quickly replaced by threats at Putin’s obstinance.
Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. ... As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us.”
Clearly, Prince Bandar was threatening the security of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, if Russia did not play along with the Saudis.
In a subsequent statement the head of the Saudi intelligence services said that the dispute over the approach to the Syrian issue leads to the conclusion that “there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate. We believe that the Geneva II Conference will be very difficult in light of this raging situation.”
On Monday, October 21st, a suicide bomber blew up a bus just a few kilometers outside of Sochi.
Monday's bombing in southern Russia was carried out by a 30-year-old woman from Dagestan, authorities said, who was reportedly married to an explosives expert in the Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus. The blast killed seven people including the bomber, according to Russian investigators.
The Russians so far are downplaying the event to the rest of the world, hoping not to cast a pall over the Olympics.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, a member of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee told ABC News that American athletes' safety and wellbeing is "always [its] highest priority."
"No matter the event... we work diligently to keep our athletes safe," the committee said. "As with previous events, for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, we will work closely with the International Olympic Committee, the organizing committee, our State Department and all other relevant government and law enforcement agencies to ensure that our entire delegation is safe while in Russia."
However, they know that this is not an isolated event. The coordination of this terrorist bombing reaches the highest levels of the Saudi government.
“We can draw the conclusion that this is just the start of a planned chain of terror attacks,” Russian security analyst Ruslan Milchenko told state-run media.
The Russian security has already foiled a previous plan for a terrorist attack.
About a month ago, Federal Security Service (FSB) agents announced that they had detained three suspected militants and seized a weapons cache in Abkhazia, the Georgian breakaway republic just across the border from Sochi. Investigators said the extremists had been planning to move the weapons, which included surface-to-air missiles and grenades, to Sochi to carry out attacks during the Winter Olympics.
The world is waiting with baited breath to see what Russia's response will be. The one thing we know is that Putin isn’t passive.
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